Medicine: Insanity & the Law

Daniel M'Naghten. a Glasgow wood turner, thought that Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel was persecuting him. Then he confused Peel with his secretary, Edward Drummond. So M'Naghten shot and killed Drummond, Jan. 20, 1843. The jury's verdict: "not guilty"—by reason of insanity. The case so shook Britain that the judicial committee of the House of Lords suggested a hard and fast rule: to prove "insanity," a defendant must show-that he was either "laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of...

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